Monday, 25 May 2015

Welfare "defrauders"! - sound familiar?

Look out people! We have those dastardly new mothers "defrauding" the gov of paid parental leave entitlements, now we have those dastardly welfare recipients also "defrauding" the taxpayers! Abbott reckons us fraudsters are ripping off the taxpayer by $1billion a year! WTF?  

If you can manage to defraud Centrelink and get away with it, I'd like to know how the hell you can accomplish such an impossible task. They check everything with a fine tooth comb before giving you a cent. If you work and pay tax they catch you through your tax return at the end of the financial year and can recoup money from you there if you owe them. Besides, who the fuck would want to be walking around spending their lives looking over their shoulder over a crumby little Newstart payment that hardly even pays the rent let alone anything else. Not exactly a career choice is it. Where the fuck did Abbott get this $1billion figure from?

Or what about this from 2011 and Murdoch's Daily Terrorgraph, even it puts the figure much lower, despite calling it an "epidemic".
WELFARE cheats, tax rorters and crooked public servants are ripping off more than $600 million a year as part of a fraud epidemic across the nation. 

In a stunning snapshot of national crime, more than 800,000 incidents of fraud were recorded by Centrelink, Customs and other government agencies in 2008-09. 

With thousands of families struggling to make ends meet, the cost of welfare fraud rose by 10 per cent to $489 million. more
Anyway even when you do everything you can right you can still end up owing them money. I while back I was overpaid about $600 after starting back to work. That was after the kidney failure and dialysis for two months and I was getting $300 a week in a sickness allowance (like I say, not exactly a career choice). I went back to work, probably a lot earlier than I should have simply for financial reasons, but being as I was spending time at work it became difficult to try and get a hold of Centrelink. A half hour wait in the line, or a half hour wait on the phone. In the end it took me a couple of weeks just to get in to see them, and of course I was overpaid. The money I'd left in my account and paid it straight back. But what if I wasn't good with money and had spent it and couldn't pay it back for a while? Would Abbott label me a fraudster for that?

Similarly this case a while back of a bloke doing contract work on a pension (you are allowed to earn so much on a pension), who tried to do everything right, paid the money back when he found out it was owed, but was still charged with fraud: 
In any given year, Centrelink will deliver around $90 billion in social security payments and other benefits to some seven million people. With such a big budget and vast client-base, it's inevitable that some mistakes occur.We expect Centrelink to be vigilant in policing abuse and rip-offs and anyone who receives Centrelink payments has an obligation to inform the agency when their circumstances change. But should people be penalised for inadvertent errors? Keeping track of what you earn and what you owe is not always so straightforward. One welfare recipient in Adelaide was overpaid by Centrelink but says he did everything he could to sort the problem out in a timely manner. And as soon as he was informed of his debt to the agency he repaid the money in full. Despite that, he's now facing fraud charges. more
So what then is "fraud". The gov seems to think that it includes any sort of overpayment, which often isn't the fault of the client but the system itself. But don't let that stop Abbott blustering about evil welfare fraudsters ripping off hard working taxpayers, by $1billion a year.
Greens senator Rachel Siewert said it was ironic the taskforce was announced in the same week it was revealed that half the calls to Centrelink have not been answered and addressed. 

Ms Siewert said the Centrelink system was overly complex and most of the errors that occur are administrative mistakes by Centrelink staff or genuine mistakes by recipients. 
"The Government's choosing to address this as fraud rather than addressing the complexity of the system, acknowledging that the system is failing and choosing to blame income support recipients," she said. more